Weekly Feature

2015-12-09 / Front Page

Rockin’ with Santa set to conclude toy drive

by MARY BEST Editor

The spirit of giving is usually alive and well once the calendar flips to December, and there is certainly no shortage of it in the Twin Cities.

On Saturday, Rockin’ with Santa will mark the end of the 15th annual toy drive organized by husband and wife John and Kate White.

The families served by the Whites’ efforts come from a list of Tonawanda’s most economically disadvantaged families, developed through the St. Vincent de Paul Society, St. Francis Outreach, the YWCA and Head Start. In 2014, 140 families were served, receiving three gifts per child.

This year’s list contains 158 families. While being able to help so many people is definitely a good thing, John White said it’s not great that so many need help.

“That means more people are hurting,” he said. “But it’s cool because I think we can take care of them.”

White said his job is to come up with the toys for these families — 3,000 to be exact — regardless of how the family got to be in that situation. In addition to his wife, 25 to 30 other adults also donate their time to help out these families.

“We just love doing this,” White said. “Our kids are grown up and most of them are out of the house, and we’re looking for things to do to give back to the community.”

The best part for White is watching the families come in, he said, adding that it’s heartwarming to see them come in and shop.

“It’s a unique situation, but the community is behind it hugely,” he said. “The community gets all of the credit. Kate and I are just a mechanism to make it happen. That’s all.”

Additionally, White wished to thank all of the volunteers who dedicate time to the cause, specifically the North Tonawanda National Honor Society, which donates 150 toys chosen by the members themselves.

White and the other volunteers will pick up toys from various drop-off locations by Friday, Dec. 11 at the latest, and the campaign for toys ends with the actual “Rockin’ with Santa” event beginning at 6:30 p.m.

The morning after the concert, families stop by to choose toys to give their children from infancy to age 16, making sure there is something for everyone to have on Christmas morning.

“Every year it comes together, makes a big smile on your face and gives you goosebumps when the families come in,” White said. “It’s heartwarming and very neat to see that [the families] are still looking our for each other, even when they have nothing.”

Even with donations from businesses, including 2,000 stocking stuffers from Dollar General, White said there is no equivalent to the work of the people of Ken-Ton.

“How does it happen? It happens because of the workers in the community,” White said. “There’s not a lot of money in this area, but boy, there’s more heart in the Twin Cities here than there is in any of the other communities.”

Rockin’ with Santa will be held at Twin City Elks Lodge 860, 55 Main St., Tonawanda. The doors open at 6:30 p.m. There will be acoustic music by Widow Maker from 7 to 9 p.m. and rock music by 55 Main from 9 to 11 p.m.

Toys also can be dropped off at all the following locations until Friday, Dec. 11:

The Chamber of Commerce, Crazy Jake’s, the Elks Lodge, Fast Teddy’s, North Tonawanda City Hall, Royal Restaurant, Submasters, TC Wheelers, Tonawanda City Hall and Tonawanda Fire Headquarters.

Submasters is also offering a free slice of pizza for each customer who brings in an unwrapped gift before the deadline.

To donate money, send it to “Kids,” P.O. Box 96, Tonawanda, NY 14150-0096.

email: mbest@beenews.com

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